Ubiquiti WLAN Review

Stable, easy to deploy and manage, and fewer access points are needed when compared to other vendors

What is our primary use case?

We are a solution provider and the Ubiquiti WLAN is one of the networking products that we implement for our customers. We have worked with different versions including the AC Pro HD, the HD, and the XD.

I have set up and manage multiple sites. There are 45 access points deployed all over a billion square feet.

What is most valuable?

The most beneficial thing about Ubiquiti is that it is simple to deploy. I found that the access points were easy to identify on the network and they came over easily, which was an upside.

What needs improvement?

The downside is the interface changes, where they are constantly doing firmware updates. I often felt like I was being pushed into updates, in spite of it already working. In my mind, it also raises a red flag because you have to wonder why they keep changing the firmware. You can decide to ignore the update, but then if you move the access point then it will update automatically anyway. This is a little bit of control that you give up. So, while it is easy to deploy, all of these things that happen in the background make me uncomfortable.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with Ubiquiti in general for several years, but specifically with WLAN for the past two to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The Ubiquiti WLAN is very stable, although if I don't update it, I feel a lot better.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is not good. We did get help, but I didn't have a good feeling about it.  By comparison, it isn't the level of support that you would get from Cisco or Aruba.

I would say that they have improved from when I started with them a few years ago and that they are getting better. In fact, it's a lot better, and also, the need for calling technical support has been reduced as well. By comparison, we call Fortinet for technical support more often. With Fortinet, we often joke that you wait on hold for so long that you've fixed the problem before you even speak with somebody about the issue.

Another comparison is with Meraki; with them, you get them on the phone quickly and they fix the problem. That's it. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have experience with products from several vendors. Some examples are EnGenius, Fortinet, Cisco, Juniper, Aruba, and Cisco Meraki.  There are differences between them and some of my colleagues are upset with the security levels that are offered by some of the other vendors.

For example, if you want to compare Juniper to Cisco, Cisco settings are not as secure. The group settings are much higher in terms of encryption on the Juniper than on the Meraki. And, if you want better security, which is group 14, you can't do that unless you call them up and they actually set it for you. So that's on the Meraki side, or Cisco.

In terms of support or how things actually happen under the hood, some people liked Meraki the best. I am leaning towards liking Meraki more, but there are some drawbacks. As far as the support is concerned, or the overall experience with the solution, Ubiquiti is simple and easy and inexpensive. You go to Meraki or you go to Aruba or you go to the others, it's a lot more money.

For many years, I use the EnGenius products for Wi-Fi. Pretty much all the access points we were selling to our clients were the EnGenius brand. Then we went to Ubiquiti and I was happy because it was much easier, I can manage it in one place, it's better, and I don't have to update things as much if I choose not to. With EnGenius, I never changed anything. I set it once, and I forgot it, and there's something to be said for that. You just set it and forget it and leave it. But the EnGenius, if you have to do troubleshooting then it is quite a problem because the management is terrible.

How was the initial setup?

We implement and deploy network solutions for our customers. This includes setting up the physical access points, then configuring them by adding them to access groups, making sure that the channels don't conflict with other devices, and so forth.

The deployment and models depend on the density of the access points in the space.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

This product is more cost-effective than some others on the market.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody who is implementing Ubiquiti is to first make sure that you have a good plan first. Make sure that you have done your homework in terms of the space where it will be installed. The best is if you're replacing the existing solution, you should still review the placement. The reason is that nine times out of ten, you'll use fewer Ubiquiti devices than you would if you were using Aruba, or Meraki, or some other brand.

You don't need to buy as many, even though with the budget you have you can buy twice as many access points for the same money you would spend on Meraki, but it's overkill. You don't need that many. So, be conservative about the number of access points that are put out there. This is to say that you have to do a really good survey.

Look for metal plating, look for the line of sight access, so that you put the access points where they can actually see each other. Make sure that the access points are not too close to each other, but not too far away. That's the whole thing. I go with 50 or 75 feet away, in tight spaces.

Overall, I feel that this is a good product.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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